No Plaxico? No Problem, Say The Giants
Wide Receivers Coach: Mike Sullivan
Offensive Coordinator: Kevin Gilbride
Wide Receivers: Domenik Hixon, Steve Smith (Starters). Sinorice Moss, David Tyree, Mario Manningham, Hakeem Nicks, Ramses Barden
The fallout of the Plaxico Burress incident was greater than any could have imagined and affected the team more than anyone wanted to admit.
The period of denial is over and the club has moved on.
In addition to releasing Burress, the Giants cut ties with their all-time leading receiver, 13-year veteran Amani Toomer, choosing not to re-sign him. GM Jerry Reese acted quickly and with precision to bring in replacements.
He used two of the Giants first five picks in April's draft to backfill the open receiver positions. In the first round, Reese took UNC's Hakeem Nicks and in the third round he nabbed Cal Poly's 6'6" Ramses Barden.
Hixon is penciled in as a starter because he finished the season as one. He was the temporary replacement for Plaxico. He is a fine player, but the team was obviously putting too large a burden on his shoulders.
Hixon is better suited as a special teams player. His strength is returning kicks, and if all goes well he will return to that role and revert back to being a third down option on offense.
The former USC star has worked out well for the Giants, making many a big play in key moments. He is a heady player with good field sense and excellent hands.
That being said, Smith is more of a third receiving option—a guy who gets into the gaps—than he is as a vertical threat. Smith will get his reps because he is reliable and smart. QB Eli Manning has made a habit of seeking Smith out when a play becomes broken.
The younger brother of All-Pro wide receiver Santana Moss has been largely a disappointment as a Giant.
He has ability, speed and all the tools, but he has had to overcome injuries suffered early on in his career which has hindered his progress. He can spread the field, but Gilbride rarely calls his number, so we still don't know a whole lot about what Moss can do.
His size is his biggest disadvantage. At 5'8", 185 he is not what the team prefers at wideout. He will become a free agent after this year, and will most likely move on.
Forgot about him, didn't you? The Giants haven't.
After reaching football immortality with the greatest catch in Super Bowl history, Tyree missed all of 2008 with a knee injury. Out of sight and out of mind, Tyree has made his way back to the Giants active roster, where he will resume his role as the clubs' top special teamer.
Tyree is a playmaker by trade no matter where you place him. In the 4th quarter of a tight game, you will find Tyree subtlety inserted into the Giants' offensive huddle. We all now know why.
The question is—why do the Giants wait so long to use him?
The former Michigan star has the ability to be as electrifying in the pros as he was in college, where he averaged almost 17 yards per catch. He chose to fore go his final year of eligibility at Michigan to enter the 2008 NFL Draft where the Giants snatched him up in the third round.
Injuries sidetracked his progress last season and he was not fully prepared to play until very late in the season. Manningham will be given the opportunity to develop both physically and professionally by the Giants. He's only 22.
Butch Davis, Nicks' college coach, has compared Nicks to another one of his former pupils—Hall-of-Fame WR Michael Irvin. That's high praise coming from such an accomplished coach.
Nicks fell to the Giants at pick No. 29 of the first round because his 40 times were not as fast as some of the others. The Giants don't put too much stock in receivers' 40 times. Playing in the The Meadowlands is like playing on the moon. Receiver speed means nothing.
Over time, the Giants have learned this and value players with good football sense and soft hands. Nicks has both of those.
This pick has piqued the curiosity of every Giant fan from Montauk to Moonachie. Barden is a 6'6", 230 lb NBA power forward in a football uniform.
Watching him run routes and snatch balls away from helplessly smaller defenders echoes the exploits of one Plaxico Burress. Barden may not be as fast as Burress, but he appears to be more athletic and muscular. The Giants may have hit the jackpot with this guy.
Jerry Reese said not to worry too much about the apparent dearth at the WR position. Perhaps we should have listened. The seven players listed above are all capable and should be able to more than offset the loss of Burress and Toomer.
The Giants will no longer have to deal with receivers not attending camps or sitting out practices. The divas are all gone.
Eli is the boss—and if these seven want to play they better familiarize themselves with him. Burress and Shockey spent too much time away from Manning to establish kinetic relationships.
The Giants may actually be better than ever at WR. After all that's happened that's hard to believe, isn't it?